Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Jim Davis (cartoonist)
Davis was born in Marion, Indiana, where he grew up on a small farm with his father Jim Sr., his mother Betty, his brother Dave, and 25 cats. His love of cartooning emerged during the time he would normally be doing chores, but couldn't due to asthma.
Prior to creating Garfield, Davis worked for a local advertising agency and later was an assistant on Tom Ryan 's comic strip, Tumbleweeds. He then created a comic strip, Gnorm Gnat , that ran for five years in The Pendleton Times , an Indiana newspaper. Davis tried to sell it to a national comic strip syndicate, but was told, "It's funny. But bugs? Who can relate to a bug?" Five years after starting Gnorm Gnat, Davis drew a giant foot that fell out of the sky, crushing Gnorm and ending the comic strip.
On June 19, 1978, Garfield started syndication in 41 newspapers. Today, it appears in more than 2,500 newspapers, the world record for a currently-syndicated comic strip. Garfield's name comes from Davis' grandfather, James Garfield Davis. There has been speculation that he was named for the assassinated President of the United States, James Abram Garfield.
Garfield and Friends was an animated cartoon series that ran for seven years between 1988 and 1994; it was also created by cartoonist Davis and featured segments that were based on his comic strips; Garfield and U.S. Acres, a lesser-known comic strip, also created by Davis, featuring Orson the Pig. Outside the U.S., the strip was known as Orson's Farm.
He now resides in Muncie, Indiana where he and his staff continue to produce Garfield under his own company, Paws, Inc. , which started in 1981. He is married to Carolyn, a singer and elementary teacher whom he met while both were attending college, and has a son named James.
Ironically, Davis did not have cats when he started Garfield and still does not today, as his wife is allergic to them. He does, however, have a dog named Molly.
The live-action film version of Davis' creation, Garfield: The Movie was released to theaters early in the summer of 2004. Though it was a box office success and featured Bill Murray as the voice of Garfield, it received generally negative reviews.
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